Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dec. 13: We need big changes ( that aren't happening)

Dear voters,

Voting Liberals or Conservative is not going to change anything for the better. Both of those parties, for example, are  the ones who approved laws that made it possible for the wealthy to hide their profits - and sneer at the rest of us for not working harder.

Both are the ones who never liked the biggest social legislation ever in Canada's history - the legislation that made it possible for the first time for Canadians who are ill to get medical attention. The man who backed them into a corner on that was not a Liberal pr a Conservative. It was Tommy Douglas of the CCF.

Now, ever mindful of their profit-seeking owners, both the Liberals and Conservatives have been making moves to give more and more of medicare over to business for private profit - and out of the reach of millions of Canadians.

We need very serious change. But there's a problem - well, several problems. Canadians are dreadfully misinformed by most of their news media.  Many, many Canadians also don't care. They don't know what's happening. And they don't care. And, finally, the parties that should be stirring up the Canadian people, parties like the NDP and the Greens, are so wimpy it can be hard to tell them from the Liberals and Conservatives.  Those parties that should be telling us about the very serious problems facing us are too busy trying to look like Conservatives and Liberals so an unthinking and passive public will vote for them. And to make it a bit worse, the Greens are a single issue party when it's not just one issue that it is vital for us to face.

There is no possibility that the NDP or the Greens as presently constituted will accomplish anything. The problems that we face are enormous - and the policies of those are not enormous. There is little sense of the scale of problems we have to overcome if we are to restore democracy, to create adequate social programmes, to make the very rich pay their taxes, to avoid getting sucked into wars that please American billionaires....

The NDP and the Greens have face the scale of those problems, to demand the very severe changes we need, to make the very rich members of our society and not owners of it. The two parties also need to merge. They are the only possible opposition groups we have - and it makes no sense to split their efforts.

Most of all, they have to make Canadian understand the scale of disaster we face if we continue government by pure greed. Without that understanding, we don't have a chance.

Below is a small taste, a very small taste, of what happens when the wealthy hide their money from taxation. The rest of us lose billions. So it gets hard to pay for needs like medicare. Most students and their families can't afford to even think about university education which, in a land of equal opportunity, should be free.
Here's a story I feel sure the irving press will not print. The time to deal with this is shrinking. But there are very wealthy people who can only think of their profits. And they control our politicians.

Here's an interesting study of the voting in Tuesday's senate election.

This is a report that can't be very important. If it were the irving press would have told us about it. Besides, our oil barons, if this were true, would be taking immediate and dramatic steps to reduce oil consumption. Yeah .

Is the U.S. still torturing prisoners? Of course. (But that just means that the prisoners are evil.) I wonder how many (or few) of our commercial news media will report this?
And this must be another false story. I can't imagine the oil industry interfering with our politicians. Can you?

Well, of course there are all those wars we have fought to improve the profits of our oil barons - a hundred or more wars we have fought since British military interference in the middle east in World War 1.

Gee. It's a good thing those oil barons can hide their profits so they don't have to pay any taxes for those wars.
I have mentioned before the appalling record of Canadian mining companies around the world and, especially, in Guatemala. Strangely, news of this has never reached most of our news media.

Maybe the irving press could do a big story on this - with a list of names of prominent New Brunswickers who own shares in these mines.

Monstrous corporations have become THE governments in the U.S., Canada, Britain and in much of the world. Most of them don't pay taxes, but they demand we pay for their wars. They won't support social needs like education or medicare, but they insist on billions of dollars in gifts from the rest of us.

It's been a trend for over a century, one really picking up steam at this time. It's the steady shift of money from the everybody else to the super wealthy. Yes, I know most people are afraid to complain about that for fear of losing their jobs. But the reality is that most of us are being plunged into an ever-deepening poverty to supply the greed of the very wealthy. And we - and they - are heading for one hell of a crash.

When was the last time the U.S. officially declared war? Actually, it was quite a long time ago - 1941 to be exact. Since then the U.S. has fought over 70 undeclared wars. It has troops in countries all over the world, thousands of whom are engaged in fighting.  Where is this happening? Well, you'll never know from our news media.

And in addition to all these, there are another 44,000 troops that the  American government has refused to account for.

In 1945, the U.S. did not help to end a war against imperialist nations. What it did was to claim the whole world as the American empire. The U.S., and only the U.S., has the right to invade countries, to overthrow elected governments, to kill millions, to create almost a hundred million refugees (and refuse to help them), and to starve who nations - as in Yemen. That's why the UN failed to achieve most of what it was supposed to do.

This is the biggest and most  vicious empire in world history - and it wins that title from a western history of vicious empires - Britain, France, Spain, Portugal... Think about that. How is that different from Hitler's empire?

And Canadians should not kid themselves. At the present pace of climate change, the U.S. will promote Canada from being a part of the American empire to being a collection of American states to give the U.S. more agricultural land and more water.

Canadian big business would probably like that. For other Canadians, it would be a social disaster.

I remember the early days of the anti nuclear bomb period when I belonged to
the anti-nuclear movement. We were dismissed then as naive idealists. We were told 'the bomb' would never be used.

So here we are talking about using it - and also learning   (though not from most of our news media) that the U.S. has, since the late 1940s, had a plan for destruction of almost half the world's population with nuclear weapons.

And we are now flirting with nuclear war breaking out in North Korea  (almost certainly setting of a Chinese reaction and, possibly, a Russian one), a very possible one, too, in the middle east (Israel is a very serious nuclear power). As well, a confrontation with Russia over Syria could well lead to nuclear war.

So long as we have nuclear weapons we will have the increasingly strong possibility of using them. And that would mean the end of the world.

You trust Trump to be reasonable? That's cute. And do you trust  Russia and China to quietly cave in to American threats?

No. As long as nuclear arms exist, there will be a rise of the destruction of the whole planet. And, some day, it will happen. We have chosen to rely on the defence weapon which will kill all of us and which, someday, will be used.

Does that sound intelligent?

I can't even begin to understand what the fuss about the 'bitcoin' is. But here's an article that might help.

Us Christians are working hard to starve millions to death,  with an added kick for more to die from disease. Onward Christian soldiers. The civilians and children of Yemen are, of course, evil. (I'm not sure why they're evil. But anybody we kill is evil. And those Yemen babies are the worst. Like North Koreans and Syrians Afghanis and Guatemalans, it must be in their genes.)

Footnote - I shall be away from my computer from December 14. I expect to return to this blog on Dec. 20.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Dec. 11: Who would have thought it possible?

This past weekend, the  irving press of New Brunswick dropped even lower into its gutter.

The front page headline was pure sensationalism. "We never thought it would come to this." As has been happening lately, this is non-news, the exploitation of a family's sorrow for a  brainless and useless headline. Ten years ago, a young woman was murdered by her common law husband. The family still feels badly about it. That's the big story of the day. And it's not a news story at all. It's a cheap and tasteless piece of sensationalism.

The other big, front page story is that ugly tree with shoes hanging on it fell down. Well, that makes my day.

On page 2, a motorist got stuck while fleeing a police car.

Then it's the third of fourth day in a row for a case of vital importance for New Brunswickers. Will they be able to buy a few beers in Quebec - and bring them over the border to New Brunswick?

Another big story YOU need to know is about a woman accused of giving police false information about a park assault. The big news? Hold your hat. There is still no trial date set for her. (Arrange your calenday accordingly).

The editorial is a rant that the public service is too big. The editorialist is big on rant. Pretty small on evidence. But irving press editors always know they can rant about government - but had better keep their mouths shut on issues like the annual theft of billions of dollars by the   super-wealthy of this province. (The editorial quotes the paper's favourite eminent authority on the issue of an oversized public service, Professor de Savoie. I note that he, too, never mentions the scandal of how the wealthy avoid paying taxes.)

Then, for even greater insight into the news, there's a commentary column which takes a humorous look at how we need to exercise after our Christmas feasting.

One of the really big stories in Canada and World News is that two cats in Ontario who were trained to catch mice are going to lose their jobs. And two women in Toronto were killed. But they were not both killed by the same man. I needed to know that.

The war in Yemen? Never heard of it. The strong possibility of a renewed and much bigger war in Syria? Who cares? It is quite possible that Canadians will be sent to kill and die there - as they were in Afghanistan. And the irving press will tell us they died for their country when, in reality, we will have sent them without a hint of how killing starving people in Yemen and Syria is serving anybody's country.

It is not possible to get one's news from the irving press and have any idea of how to vote or decide anything intelligently.  There is very little real news in them; the editorials are ignorant rants; and most of the commentaries are trivial. These are newspapers designed to keep people in ignorance.

Worse. We are at the edge of a world nuclear war. It will be a war designed entirely to enrich those already very wealthy who don't don't pay taxes. The irving press has a weak sense of any of that.
Forms of life on this planet are disappearing. But not to worry. Oil profits are doing fine.

The American government which lavished health on hurricane remedies for Florida and Texas has been close to indifferent to the suffering in Puerto Rico - which is American territory. The official (yawn) death toll is 64. However, it now seems that it is really over a thousand.

A combination of climate change and population growth is driving the earth out of its food supply. A region hard hit is the central and western U.S. That means the U.S. will be desperately looking for more agricultural land. Guess where it will look.

We are stepping very close to a nuclear war that would kill billions. We are doing it in North Korea and we are doing it in the middle east. And the bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are small compared to the ones currently waiting for someone, anyone to push the button.

We have the capacity to destroy the planet. We can do it with nuclear bombs, with drought, with famine, with all the elements of climate change.

But the reality is we cannot continue to waste our time on wars, most especially not on wars fought to enrich our wealthy who don't pay taxes, and so leave it up to us to pay for their wars.

The most dangerous people in the world today are the very wealthy who have enormous power combined with no sense whatever of responsibility.  (When was the last time you heard even one of them taking a leadership role in dealing with climate change, or with the butcher's bill for making the rich richer.)

And, yes, all of these disasters will happen even here in New Brunswick.

For years, the U.S. has been bombing Pakistan on almost a daily basis. The bombing is by drones, and  the 'pilots' guide the planes while seated in mock aircraft in a comfortable office somewhere. A high proportion, perhaps most, of those killed are innocent people.

And, as in many parts of the world, this is driving governments to closer relations with Russia and China.

Meanwhile, the remote pilots who live in comfort while they kill get medals their bravery (they really do) and are, of course, just 'wunnerful, wunnerful' patriots.
I realize, of course, that anyone who criticizes capitalism is,  by definition, a crazed, bomb-throwing radical. However, anyone who studies the history of empires in the last, several centuries knows that capitalism has been a force of dreadful and destructive brutality.

Can it be controlled? Perhaps. But the wealth that can be piled up by major capitalists makes if difficult to control - and most of our bought and paid for politicians have never made the slightest attempt to control it.

Minimally, it has to be controlled, and very seriously controlled very, very soon.
(I wonder if I could get a job as a commentary columnist for the irving press?)

Here is an item that was sent to me by a reader. It's a very long read about North Korea. You won't agree with every word of it. (I didn't.) But the major thrust of it is bang on.

And it's very important to understand what is happening in North Korea - even if the irving press doesn't think it worth reporting on.

The U.S., which was never invited to Syria and whose presence there has always been illegal, insists on staying there now. Russia, which was invited and which, with Syria, is the one that defeated ISIS in the country, is leaving now that its job is done. Obviously, Putin has the intelligence that a remaining Russia force could well be a trigger for war with the U.S., a war that could well go nuclear.

Of course, if the U.S. were now to attack Syrians, Putin might feel Russia has to return.

For decades, the Pentagon has been a money tree for American capitalists. But Americans know little about its spending. It seems, now, that over 6 trillion dollars has gone missing.

It's no secret that much of the money spent by the Pentagon goes to capitalist buddies, many of whom offer executive positions to retired generals and admirals. That's why money for relief programmes and war rebuilding simply disappears - and never provides relief or rebuilding to anybody except favoured billionaires. The graft is well known. What's not well known is that it may be counted in trillions of dollars.

The problem of American politics is not just Donald Trump. The problem runs very deep, and it has characterized the behaviour of most presidents, both Democrat and Republican.

It's handy for Canadian big business now to be friendly to the U.S., just as it once handy for Canadian big business to be friendly to Britain.  (That's why Canadians died in Afghanistan. That's why they're now stationed in Latvia. That's why Canadians bombed Libya.) But the British empire fell after World War 2, so that's when the affection of Canadian big business drifted to the U.S. But now the U.S. empire is in collapse. And our government seem to have no plans to deal with that.
Canadian news media haven't told us much about Canada's sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia - though Canada is a leading supplier of weapons to that country, and though such a sale is contrary to Canadian law.
Here's an insight into how brutal war has become. There once was a time when wars were not deliberately aimed at civilians and children as major targets. The change began back in 1920 when Churchill ordered the deliberate bombing of helpless civilians in Iraq. It's now standard practice, especially by the U.S.

From the Middle East, here's a poll of the region reflecting how residents feel about their own leadership, and also about the leadership of other countries in the region.

There are some surprises in here.

It has been known for almost 70 years that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had nothing to do with ending the war against Japan. The word came from some pretty eminent American leaders, especially in the military. But the news media have never mentioned what they said. The result is that most Americans, in particular, have no idea of what it was really about.

Indeed, most of our news media have said nothing about the extraordinary brutality of wars since 1945, and  nothing about how almost all wars are caused by economic greed. They were pretty silent, too, about the conquest of most of Latin America for the benefit of big business, about the poverty and mass murder in that, a scale of poverty and murder that only one Latin American state (Cuba) has escaped from.

The same lying was true in the European wars of empire. The reporting was all glory, glory, glory and "God who made thee mighty".

There was nothing glorious about killing one and a half million people in Iraq or killing Libyans or equipping and training ISIS to kill Syrians. And there was nothing glorious about killing tens of millions in North Korea and Vietnam. This has been very old-fashioned imperialism - only worse.

And it's not just the U.S. in this. In particular, Britain and Canada have happily joined the gang.

And now it's all unravelling. Rule by the greedy has never been a good idea. Nor  have the ordinary people of the U.S., Britain or Canada enjoyed any benefit from joining the imperial games.  But it's quite possible they will suffer dearly in the collapse of them. And that collapse looks very, very close - and very, very messy.

And Trump is A villain, but not THE villain. The villains are our 'respected' capitalists, the very big ones, who think only of their profits, nothing of the rest of us, and nothing of suffering and destruction they impose on us by their greed.

(Sorry, it has not been cheerful to write this blog today.)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Dec. 8: The danger gets worse....

Think about this one. Think hard. Think very hard.

This is a pretty good source. Ellsberg was well-placed to know what he's talking about. So  you can be sure the irving press won't carry this story. As well, we already know that President Truman wanted to conduct an extensive nuclear attack on North Korea, but was prevented by General MacArthur. As it was, the U.S. killed 20% to 30% of the whole North Korean population, mostly by conventional bombing - largely of civilians.

The idea that both sides will abstain from nuclear weapons if both sides have them is absurd. If the world has nuclear weapons then someday somebody will use them.   (And this book indicates that the U.S. would happily be that somebody even if it means murdering hundreds of millions of innocent civilians, and even if it means poisoning life on the whole planet.) So long as the weapons are there, it will happen some day, and well before climate change does the job for us.

Wonderful promises were made to us and to our service people in World War 2. We were going to create a new world at peace. But we didn't do it.

Today, U.S. politicians are talking of cutting back on Trump's power to order a nuclear attack. Hey, guys and gals, as Ellsberg demonstrates, that power has already been handed out to dozens of people down the line.

Big business didn't give a damn about peace. (There are big profits to be made out of war, big profits for that small group who don't pay any of the taxes that created those profits.) Nuclear weapons became simply a device to hold down the competition from other countries, and to create a world empire entirely controlled by the U.S. - which really meant controlled by U.S. big business with its hangers-on in countries like Britain and Canada.

Not surprisingly, any nation that could, joined the scramble for nuclear weapons, and the war that nobody could win.

If the U.S. is now threatening nuclear war with North Korea, it's a sure bet that the rest of the world is planning a nuclear response. The whole issue will become worse, much worse, over the next ten to twenty years as the U.S. military shows that for all its size and sophistication it cannot defeat even small countries. Certainly, it is unlikely to beat either Russia or China in a conventional war and, if it did beat them, the butcher's bill would be unacceptable.

Add to that the problem that the U.S. is running into serious trouble with its colonial empire in Latin America and the Middle East.

Like cliimate change, the use of war has to be ended if we are to survive. But, like climate change, the use of war is an essential factor in the wealth of the super wealthy. And the super-wealthy control most of our news media, and a majority of our politicians.

Unless we overthrow the power of our super-wealthy, and go back to the promises we made in 1945, the planet will not survive as a place of life. And the time is short.

Think of why we fought that war. Was it really so that the super-wealthy could control and plunder us?

Canadian news media haven't paid much attention to the Paradise Papers. Nor have they been in any hurry to name the offenders - though it should be easy now that we know the names they use for the offshore banks that hold their hidden money.

That hidden money is a theft from all of us, a theft that makes our lives far, far more difficult.

But no, the irving papers have no room for it. A front page story today was about a mountie who died several months ago in a highway accident. As is so often the case, this one is not really a news story. It's a very late, very sentimental obituary of the sort that media call a 'sob story'.

Luckily, The Guardian has a useful story about the Paradise Papers. (But it's guaranteed the irving press won't publish that one, either.)

Wake up, everybody, this is a world issue. If it were a foreign country plundering us this way, we'd go to war immediately.

The U.S. has been holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay for years without charge or trial. For that matter, they are also being held against what we (humorously?) refer to as the rules of war.

Recently, an American art display has been featuring the paintings of those prisoners. But now the American military has stepped in to prevent this brutal assault on freedom-loving Americans.

And here's an opinion you won't see in the commentaries by any of the hack commentators who appear in the irving press.

Justin Trudeau is big on speeches, small on actions.

If we get saved from a war with North Korea (with its risk of nuclear war), we'll have Russia and China to thank for it. And their behaviour could set a model for the prevention of future wars - at least as a temporary measure.
The climate is changing much more quickly, according to a reputable research group, than we have realized.  (Of course, this will soon to proven false by one of our patsy 'Think-Tanks' like New Brunswick's very own Institute for Market Studies.)

Don't worry, say our financial leaders. Lots of time, lots..... The editorialist of the irving press says we should relax....z-z-z-z-

The following is from what is surely a respectable source.

In my graduate school days, my landlord defined the history I was studying as 'lie stories'. Well, some of it was. But here's a sample of a real lie story that's been routinely told by our news media and political leaders for years.

The following is all too true, and all too typical.

And an expression of the terror we should all be feeling.

And here is one worth thinking about.

Trouble, very big trouble, trouble of the sort that will involve all of us is coming to the middle east. And as the U.S. lurches into more wars, the pressure will be on Canada 'to do its share' of the insanity.

And here's proof that Canadian corporations can be just as corrupt (and maybe even more so) as American, British, etc. companies.

This is a long item, but worth a read for its insights into weaknesses in our education system. Few of those weaknesses are the teachers. I learned that in my first year of teaching grade seven when I taught some versions of Canadian history that did not fit with what parents had learned many years before.

"No, Mr. Decarie. It just upsets people to hear their children say our ancestors killed native peoples to steal their furs. And we don't want upset people, do we?"

The problem is governments, society in general, and often media who think the role of the school is to produce children who think just like the robots their parents are. And it's getting worse.

There's pressure for peace talks between the U.S. and North Korea. But it's not likely they will happen. North Korea will not give up its nuclear capability. The U.S. (which also won't give up its nuclear capability but sees no problem with that), will not accept that condition.

Conventional war? Well, for all its spending, the U.S. has not been very good at conventional wars. In any case, China and, likely, Russia, could not tolerate an American attack of any sort in that region.

We are very, very close to disaster.

Haaretz, one of the world's best news mediums, is entirely opposed to Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It sees this as a move that will not benefit Israel or Netanyahu or the U.S. or anybody. More likely, it will provoke major conflict between the U.S. and Muslims all over the world - with profoundly destructive effects throughout the middle east. But let's look on the good side.

Those Christians we commonly call evangelicals or fundamentalists will be delighted. This could well be the time of prophecy that the world will end - and they and only they will be admitted to heaven while the rest of us - Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, United Church,, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, really a whole pile of people, go down to the   burning, fiery furnace.

For myself, I hope they're right. I would hate to get stuck for eternity in a heaven packed with evangelicals.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Dec. 6: An Insanely Dangerous Day

The December 5 edition of the irving press took little time to read. The front page headline - about a man killed in a road accident - wasn't written as a news report at all. It was written as an obituary. There was a real news story, lower on the page and shorter - about a medical committee which advocated privatization of more medical services, along with a note that many doctors vehemently opposed any such move. (It was no great surprise to see that the editorial vehemently supported privatization. The paper almost always opposes government services, even when they are far cheaper than privatized ones.)

Canada and World News was just over a page - and of no importance whatever. Lots of ads, though.

Today's editorial was a rant aimed at the schools for not doing a better job of teaching. What an editorial half wit! No wonder nobody ever signs an editorial.

The problem, to a very large degree, is not the schools. It's the parents. Children growing up in a society that has little interest in learning or discussion are not likely to do well in school. It's a simple as that. I grew up in a society like that, one in which a grade 9 education was regarded as a quite adequate achievement. I was just lucky that my father was a heavy reader, and constantly encouraged me.

We can't start with just the children. We have a huge job to do with their parents. And the parents have a huge job to do with themselves. That is especially true in the  province of New Brunswick.

When most of the media carry news about the U.S., it is usually about the gaffes and blunders of the Trump administration. We are currently seeing a round of revelations suggesting Trump campaign people were in contact with the Russians. The tone invariably suggests that Trump sold out American interests to the Russians.

This is a frivolous hysteria. Yes, Trump is an idiot. Yes, Trump is a clown. Yes, the Trump administration is a chaos.But Trump, for all his clown act, is not the big issue facing the U.S.  After all, a congress of even marginal honesty and intelligence would be able to contain him.

No. Trump is not the big issue. The big issue is the United States itself. And it is the United States rather than Trump - or perhaps I should say the leading capitalists of the U.S. -  who have created the crisis we face. And that behaviour, not Trump, is what has brought us to the brink of the collapse of the U.S.

The American Empire, like all empires of the last, several centuries, is an empire created to benefit the leading capitalists of the imperial power. The British Empire was similar with armies sent around the world to enslave whole nations into the cheap slavery of British capitalists and to plunder national resources for the benefit of those capitalists. The British common people got virtually nothing out of it but more poverty.

The same was true in the U.S. where capitalists first conquered the territory that is now called the U.S., then warred against the Spanish empire in Latin America so that, to this day, it holds much of that former Spanish empire in poverty and servitude.

That done, American capitalists turned their attention to the British empire. Though an 'ally' of Britain, they used both wars to break the British empire, completing the job shortly after 1945. And so today, U.S. capitalists hold large parts of Africa, for example, that used to be British, French.....

In the years of British Empire, especially from 1900 to 1945, Canada fought British wars. That's because Canadian capitalists wanted it that way. Britain and its empire, after all, were essential to the leading Canadian capitalists. (Yes, I know many Canadians felt a loyalty to Britain. But we forget that many didn't.
Anyway, Canada began the series by fighting the Boer War for Britain, though the Boers in no way threatened Britain or Canada.)

But after   1945, the British Empire was dead. Nor did Canadian capitalists much care.  Their key economic partner now was the U.S. So, since 1945, we have fought wars to please our American masters.

Linked to that was the determination of American capitalists after World War Two to rule the world. That's why they invaded North Korea as the doorway to the conquest of China. That also explains the war in Vietnam. That's why they organized a NATO to block Russian expansion. That's why they displaced Britain in most of its oil empire.

That's why they demanded the biggest 'defence' budgets in world history. That's why the U,S, has been at war almost constantly since 1945. That's why it has killed so many millions of people.

Amazingly, things have not gone well. For all its spending, for all its weaponry, for all its puppet states (like Britain and Canada), the U.S. has been remarkably inept in its wars. What is has done is to seriously neglect its own people, to deny them essential services, to create massive poverty in the U.S., and to make itself hated in well over half the world.

Trump is not responsible for any of this. This was done by Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, George Bush -Sr. and Jr. - Barack Obama and many others. It was all done at the command of ambitious billionaires. Trump is simply carrying on a murderous service to its leading capitalists of whom he is a minor one.  It would be nice to get the clown off the stage. But it would have no effect on the great problem.

They now have us in the late stages of preparing for the war that nobody can win.

It's a world of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, most far more powerful than the ones of 1945. It's also a world of poison gases, of chemical weapons like Agent Orange that kill plants and people, a world of robot killers. A person of even very average intelligence should be able to see the inevitable result of what we are doing.

But these are not people of average intelligence.

No, indeed. They see themselves as superior beings, gifted to rule over us. And, in their superiority, they also see themselves as intellectually gifted. After all, if they're rich, they gotta be really smart. Alas! They aren't, probably because their minds are severely crippled by greed and ignorance.

You think they're clever? Well, take a good luck at the Donald Trump that almost everybody has contempt for. He's one of them. Do you think he's clever? Would you trust his decisions?

No, Donald Trump is not the problem. The problem is that he's a typical big capitalist, and that type has produced thousands of Donald Trumps. And these Trumps all believe in a wisdom they don't have. And they are all greedy and destructive.

They need strict controls. But, with their money, they have bought off our 'old party' politicians to take away what few controls there were.

Donald Trump is not the problem. The problem is the thousands of Donald Trumps who we have allowed to take over our lives and our futures. They now have the whole world on the edge of extinction.

A thought for our churches - Christianity is supposed to encourage caring for others. Capitalism, in its basic concept, is as unChristian as one could get. It's entirely about exploiting others. (sorry - competing.)

Right now Christian capitalists are encouraging the murder of millions of civilians in Yemen by starving them to death. It has murdered uncounted millions in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America....

So where are the Christian churches in Canada and  the U.S.? When a hospital carries out abortions, Christians rally to protest. But when capitalists kill millions, they're silent. How reminiscent this is of the silence of the churches in Hitler's Germany! Apparently, there are many Christians, including clergy, who don't know the difference between between being righteous and being self-righteous.

Here's a story the local paper should be covering. Much of the housing in Moncton is heavy on fuel use. It could also help a project to provide housing for the homeless.
Unable to sleep last night, I turned to my computer - to read the following item. More that any news in the past year, this story scared the wits out of me. Trump's move in this case has the potential to spread a monstrous war across the Middle East, a war that could suck in the U.S., Russia, and possibly even China. And, if so, that would be the final war.

The U.S. government, which happily criticizes and interferes with governments all over the world, has never said a word about the current ruler of The Philippines.
We are conditioned by most of our news media to think of capitalism as 'a good thing'. I'm sure it can be - properly controlled. But what we have allowed is for it to go wildly out of control, and to control us. And that is heading us (and capitalism) into a terrible crash. Corporate bosses, for all they believe themselves to be wise and reasonable, are as prone to error, self-interest, greed, abuse - and error -  as all the rest of us.

Here's a story that has become all too common - and that could well have an impact on Canadians.

Increasingly, California is suffering wildfires that threaten even major cities. The increasing scale of these fires in recent years almost certainly means they are due to an increasingly dry environment. In short, much of California and Texas is becoming too arid for human safety. In much of the world, millions are being forced out of their regions by the effects of climate change. As this spreads through the American west and mid west, where will those people go?

The U.S. will be looking for more territory where conditions are better. Within a couple of decades, the U.S. is likely to suggest that Canada should be a good neighbour, and give itself to the U.S.
And, in a related case....

Too bad the richest county in the world can't help them. But it needs its money for 'defence' spending. So it can't afford to help even its own people.

Then there's David Suzuki who is a highly respected scientist. (That's why the irving press won't publish his columns.)

Justin Trudeau has become a master of making statements without actually doing anything.

The Deep State is a term used to define those unelected people who really run the U.S. (Something similar happens even here in New Brunswick.) Recent attacks on Trump come largely from "The Deep State". (No. I am not defending Trump, just saying how the world really works.) Nor is this simply another made up story by bloggers. Many presidents, going back over a century, have drawn attention to it.

And if The Deep State succeeds in bringing down Trump, it will simply be to bring in its own scoundrels.

Trump claims that the U.S. news media, in cooperation with the deep state, are carrying out a vendetta against him, particularly in suggesting he acted improperly toward Russia. And Trump could well be right.

But we also know he has acted improperly in dealing with Israel's Netanyahu. Curiously, The Deep State boys seem much less interested in that.

This needs no introduction. And Canadian readers should bear in mind that some Canadian politicians, especially in New Brunswick, would just love to privatize health care - for reasons that have nothing to do with health.

Pope Francis is usually one of  the world's most dynamic religious leaders. But, sadly, this was not the case in his visit to Myanmar  (Burma).

Our news media haven't paid much attention to this next story. I guess that's because it  has nothing to do with the world's biggest 'defence' budget.

Again, I can't send on the Haaretz statements of opinion on Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, I can say that the Haaretz opinion columns are in agreement that this was a very foolish and dangerous move.

Add to it the fact that the U.S. is keeping troops in Syria when it has no right to do so - and when Israel is bombing Syria.

I can't even guess where this one will go.
And in case you have forgotten what us humans have become...

Don't worry about the children in Yemen. We Christians will teach them to sing "Jesus wants me for a sunbeam".


But why worry. Copy the people of New Brunswick. Read the irving press. The big story for today is that a New Brunswicker is going to the Supreme Court of Canada to win the right to buy beer in Quebec, and bring it back over the provincial border.

Be still, my heart!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dec. 4: The Garbage Press

When I was a child of 12 or so, I got hold of what was called a tabloid. This was a newspaper composed entirely of violence, horribleness - much like the journalistic garbage that one sees at supermarket checkouts. These are journals of scandal, gossip, rumour - most of them not true, and none of them worth reporting in the first place They are pure sensation. The one I saw about 12 had a story about a rapist, and I still remember it's almost pornographic style, "...and then the filthy beast reached for her delicate pink panties..."

I have known some of the ' reporters' who write this garbage. Almost none of these stories is worth reporting. Many of them aren't true at all. And none of them help us to understand this world we live in. None of them helps us to deal with its problems.

I never expected even a bad daily newspaper to descend to this - not until I read the Dec. 2 edition of our very own irving newspaper, The Moncton Times and Transcript. It was the front page story for the whole paper. It took over a full page of the paper. It was about the grief of a couple whose children had been murdered 24 years ago. The headline was, of course, a tearjerker.  "A family's grief: Why kill him? Why kill my daughter?"

One can (and should) have every sympathy with the parents. But to write up a full page story on it 24 years later, and when there is nothing new in the story is a disgusting cashing in on the family grief.

There's nothing new in it. There's nothing we can do. This is in a class with "...then the filthy beast reached for her delicate pink panties."  This did nothing but fill space to attract the sort of readers who like to see gossip and congratulate themselves on their own virtue.

This is similar to a story on page 2 about a man who is missing in the woods near here. This one is worth a good, couple of paragraphs. But it has 22 paragraphs, mostly of gush which adds nothing to our understanding..."

This is gutter reporting. Readers need reporting that tells us what's going on so that we can understand it, can see what caused it and, perhaps can conceive of remedies.

It would be nice, for example, if the irving press would tell us about the very wealthy who hide their money from taxes. Those people steal billions of dollars from us every year.  And information about it is becoming available. CBC has the story below.

This is money that we now don't have for education, health care, for those in poverty, for the homeless....  Why aren't most of our newsmedia asking any questions? Why aren't they telling us who some of the offenders are? (This is information that's available.)

We are being robbed. Our children are being cheated of any chance for equal opportunity. Why aren't most of our news media saying anything? If you shoplift a chocolate bar, its a big story and a court appearance.  And maybe jail time. But if you steal billions?...

There is a massive drift of wealth all over the world from 99% of us to the very rich. We are paying a heavy price for it now - but that's nothing compared to the big price when all of this theft really cuts loose.

So who are these people? Who are the politicians who made it easy for them to do this? Can we forget the big stories about 'philanthropy' for a minute? And get a look at our 'philanthropy' to the wealthy?

And while they're at it, they might look at a related issue. How much of our tax money do we hand out as gifts to the wealthy? How much do we let them off from, say, property taxes? What kind of a sweetheart deal sold our forests? Big companies (Bombardier in Quebec, for example, live off the taxpayers.)

Why did the irving press fail to make any effort to get the full story when our chief provincial medical officer was forced to resign because she condemned the use of a certain forest spray?

Two things have to happen in this province if it is to avoid disaster in the not very distant future.

1. People have to wake up and realize that both the Liberals and Conservatives in this province are rotten to the core.

2. The NDP and the Greens need a kick to wake up to the extent of disaster we are facing. They need to understand that drifting along with voter opinion is going to do nobody any good.

Oh, yeah...

And the people of New Brunswick have to develop more political insight and courage than they have ever shown in the past. And that insight ain't going to come from the irving press. New Brunswickers are going to have to develop their own sharing of information and opinion. There is no hope for a population of conformist robots.
The US has in effect declared war on Venezuela. It's the usual reason. Venezuela has sinned by thinking it has a right to control its own oil. So the U.S. has imposed crushing sanctions to drive it into poverty. That's illegal, of course. But the U.S. has a special right to do whatever it pleases. That's what's called 'making America great again'.

It's quite possible that the U.S. will send in troops to crush the Venezuelan government - and then send in 'peacekeepers'. That's what it did when Haiti had the nerve to choose its own government - and Canada then kissed up to the U.S. by sending in 'peacekeepers' to make it all look respectable.

Readers of New Brunswick's irving press will have noticed that in the last week or so it has become an even bigger stinker.. That sort of thing is happening all across Canada. And here's what it's all about.

Israel is in chaos as Prime Minister Netanyahu is using the government to stop a police investigation of the massive corruption by him and his wife. What will he do to blunt this unrest? Watch for Nethanyahu to push for a major war in the middle east - perhaps Iran or Lebanon or both, and perhaps with cooperation from Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

(The irving press hasn't noticed this story, either. Hey!  Why get readers disturbed?)

Then there's Trump's big tax cut for all. Sure. What it really means is greatly increased suffering for everybody but the rich. After all, if the U.S. cuts taxes, it has to cut services like education and health care (which are already savagely cut.) And it certainly isn't going to cut its big spending on the corrupt defence industry.

This is an empire in collapse because of its own greedy bosses. Canada, while not as bad, is on a similar path.

The one hope of a US survival could be Bernie Sanders. But it will be extremely hard for him to overcome the opposition of the very wealthy and of the news media they own.   (And the irving press has never heard of him.)

Climate change is real - and here's a pretty terrifying look at what is coming. We are making no preparations adequate to halt this or to deal with it. Can you imagine the damage that will be done by billionaires who are too greedy  to recognize what is coming? For a sample of the idiocy that's running loose, the biggest story in today's irving press is that the new leader of the federal Conservative party, Andrew Sheer, wants to lighten up on environmental legislation like the prohibition on an Atlantic oil pipeline. Duh! It'll create jobs.
(Oh! you seriously think that oil bosses give a damn about saving jobs? Yeah. They're real sweethearts that way.)

The rules of war, never very strong, no longer even exist for the U.S. Countries now can be invaded with no pretence of declaring war. Civilians, including children, have become the major targets. Prisoners, who once were released when a war was over, are now kept at Guantanamo, seemingly forever with no trial and no charges. Their crime? Defending their country when the U.S. attacked it.

Here's a story about the prisoners at Guantanamo. It's a long one. But worth a read.

Racism and its close partner religious hatred have been with us for a long time. They certainly didn't begin with Hitler. All of the European empires used racism and religious hatreds as their excuse for conquest. It has been a feature of American life since the earliest landings in North America.

Canadian history is ridden with racism and bigotry.

That's why we largely accept the American illegal imprisonment of Afghans at Guantanamo. Hitler was a product of western bigotry, not an exception to the rule.

Some time ago, I posted a copy of the Hollywood film about the 'heroic' White Helmets of Syria. The film, which won an academy award, was pure propaganda.
So here's another account of what the White Helmets are really all about.

Another long one. It's worth the read because is has the kind of analysis way above the head of anybody at irving press.

And here is an ugly reality.

This is old news. But it rarely made the news when it was happening.
The US is mounting land, air and sea operation along the border and coast of    North Korea. Will that reduce the danger of a war? Of course not. The reason North Korea has developed a nuclear bomb is BECAUSE the U.S. has been carrying out such actions for 60 years.

We're going to need Russia and China to save us on this one.

I can send on only the headline of this story from Haaretz. Younger Christians in the U.S. are no longer inclined to excuse everything that Israel does. That's quite a shift. For almost seventy years, any news about Israel in our news media has been tightly watched by an Israeli government agency popularly called The Israeli Lobby. In all of the western world, any journalist or commentator even mildly critical of Israel was the enemy - and was to be destroyed.

And it was effective. I can testify to that. Now, those days may be over.

The world is quite a mess, isn't it? Well we made the mess. After World War Two, we created the UN to avoid future wars. We promised our veterans that their efforts and the efforts of those who died would lead to a world order that would prevent future wars.

And then we didn't do a damned thing except to let our corporations set up wars to benefit themselves. That's a betrayal we should all think about.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Dec.1: What a hell of a world!

In civilized countries, but not the U.S. and Canada, governments pay for universities. Germany, Sweden, Cuba for example do not charge student fees, and the universities don't have to scramble for money. But Canadian and American universities do. And that leads to some unfortunate results.

Short of money, the universities have to scramble get donations from the wealthy. And in the scramble , they become - how shall I put it? -  patsies for the wealthy.

Seven or eight years ago, the elder Irving wrote a column in his newspaper announcing he was a member of the government. (I forget the word he used. But that was the meaning of it.) And, as a member of it, he was asking leading citizens (like university presidents) to sit on a committee he was forming to plan the provincial economy.

I pass lightly over the facts that in a democracy  he had no right to plan any provincial economy, and no right to declare himself a member of the government. This was both illegal and highly improper.

(And let's not use that old line "the wealthy know how to handle money". They do know how to handle it for themselves. But they have none of the motivation or skills required to know how to handle money for a whole society. You need professional and highly specialized skills for that. And you need a social conscience that goes beyond self-serving 'philanthropy').

The point is the university presidents skipped all over themselves to sit on Mr. Irving's committee. There they joined the usual suspects such as chamber of commerce hangers-on who were even less competent than the university presidents and Mr. Irving were in planning a provincial economy.

The whole exercise was absurd and incompetent  and highly improper. But the university presidents had to shout 'ready, aye, ready' to kiss up to Mr. Irving who gives them money for chairs, for speakers he approves of, and programmes that suit his outlook.

The same thing is true of universities across Canada and the U.S.  It can even mean that some distinguished professors are just kiss-ups for the wealthy who contribute their salaries. There aren't many professors like that - but I have known a few. (And, very early in my career, I was approached by the oil industry to say nice things about it.  But I couldn't think of anything nice.)

In return, the wealthy are showered with honorary PhDs, and given a large part in the operation and programmes of the universities.

Thus the creation of a programme at St. Francis Xavier named after Brian Mulroney. One of the wealthy who gave money for it said that Mulroney was one of the best prime ministers Canada ever had. Yes, he was - for those people who were very, very rich and who gave him piles of illegal money. He was also the only prime minister ever caught selling himself to an international scoundrel while still in office.

He was very, very crooked. Lucky for him, the prime minister at the judgement of the scandal was a Conservative, Stephen Harper, with a kind heart for rich thieves.  So nothing really happened, and Mulroney goes on living in one of the biggest mansions in the most expensive part of Montreal.

And so St. FX has created a Mulroney Institute. Guess how honest (or dishonest) the institute's professors are likely to be.

The following opinion is about British universities. They are much like Canadian and American ones. They have been taken over by greed, a greed encouraged by the business leaders who have taken over much of the running of them.

I went through this process, having been offered the post of president of my university. The whole bargaining process was handled by the billionaire chairman of the board and a swarm of lawyers. The terms were stunning. Alas! It was all too obvious I was being bought, not hired, to run the university as the chairman wished it run. So I turned it down.

(But, oh, I could use that money today. Think it over guys.)

Yemen almost never makes the news in the irving press - though I guarantee it will have lots and lots of stories about Prince Harry and his chosen one.

The Yemen war is one of the most savage this world has ever seen. The key strategies of Saudi Arabia are bombing civilians and starving innocent people to death. To do that, Saudi Arabia is getting large support from Britain, the U.S. (and Canada.) We'll do anything to make the arms industries happy - so much so that our economies would be in trouble without them. After all, if we weren't using our money to fatten billionaires, we'd just waste it providing food, education and housing for our own people.
I can remember, as a child, hearing about the corruption and fixed elections of Latin America. These stories were always told in the context of how wacky Latin Americans were.  It took me a long time to learn that all that corruption and rigged elections had everything to do with U.S. business interests in Latin America.  (And Canadian business interests.)

Oh,  yes. This is the biggest problem facing us - and our survival.
The U.S. can put trade sanctions on North Korea. In fact, it has been doing that for 70 years. And it hasn't worked.

Can it bomb North Korea - nuclear or traditional? Almost certainly not. China and Russia could not allow more American presence on their borders, especially since the U.S. has consistently used such a presence to plant nuclear weapons on such a border.

Trump has inherited a mess created by American aggression seventy years ago. Since then it has only made conditions worse by constantly threatening North Korea with invasion. (It's not entirely Trump's fault. It's been the fault of every president since Harry Truman.)

The world needed to deal with the problem of nuclear weapons in 1945. It didn't. The world needed to deal with the issue of more wars in 1945. It didn't. Instead, it increased the stocks of nuclear weapons, and made wars a daily occurrence.

The only news even remotely good is that Kim Jong Un is most unlikely to bomb anyone. (Yes, I know he's a foreigner and has slanty eyes. But he's still unlikely to unleash a war that could only destroy his own country. The loose cannon here is Trump.))

For decades, Israel has been stealing land and homes from Palestinians. It has been cutting off electric power to Palestine on a daily basis. Palestinians who live in Israel and who have Israeli citizenship are not permitted to live in large areas of Israel. In short, Palestinians are treated as an inferior race. What we are seeing here is an Israeli racism that resembles the anti-semitism of most of the western world up to recent years.

Actually, most countries become prone to seeing themselves as a race - and a superior one. Israelis early branded themselves as God's chosen people. The U.S., probably in an imitation that worked its way through Christian thinking, did the same sort of thing.

In the nineteenth century, most Americans, probably picking up on the Old Testament, believed they were destined by God to rule the world. The concept was called Manifest Destiny. And that justified the massacre of native peoples and the invasions of Latin America. It's still a powerful force in American thinking, tarted up now with the concept of American  Exceptionalism - the concept that Americans have the right to ignore international law, and to do as they please to the world. (Compared to American Protestants, Kim Jong Un is a modest kind of guy.)

The British Empire was full of the same sort of thinking. God wanted Britain to rule its empire and, for that purpose, made the British a superior people. That sense of racial superiority by the gift of God was a standard view of the British upper classes for centuries.

Trump is in the late stages of cutting taxes for billionaires, and destroying health care for all Americans except the rich who can afford to pay for it. And where will this take Americans?

Americans are so stuffed with myths about what they are and what there history is that Trump can probably get away with this for awhile.  But the longer term effect is likely to be rising poverty, terrible suffering, and increased violence which, alas, could go in any direction.

(Yes, I know he is also cutting taxes for the middle class. But the real meaning of that has to be severe cuts to education and other services.)

A realistic look at the middle east....
And in one of the most savage wars of our time...  (But it  hasn't made the irving press.)

Generally, we have come into a world dominated by the very wealthy who understand only one thing - greed. Greed without limits. That greed has led the world into war after war since 1945. It's a greed that has shown up in the behaviour of Canadian mining companies all over the world - most spectacularly in the murders of 200,000 Maya people, men, women, children in Guatemala. It has shown up in the murder of millions in North Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and 70 other countries that our news media haven't bothered to tell us about.

Trump has now turned that greed on the American people as well. And Canada is closely linked, dangerously linked to U.S. policies. And Canada's wealthy, for all their honorary doctorates, act just like the U.S. wealthy do.

And here's another case of the robot wars our news media never tell us about.
Interesting. This involves, among other things, U.S. robots killing people in Yemen. Yep. Multimillion dollar robots to kill children and civilians in one of the poorest countries in the world. (Hey. Those starving children are a threat to American values - like Jesus and all that.)

And here's a look at a new world shaping - and one that our news media haven't told us much about.

Another blow to American Manifest Destiny and Exceptionalism.

I guess I should do what most of our news media is doing and run pictures and a story about Prince Harry and his betrothed. The British taxpayers, who pay for his father's household staff of 150 and who ensure that his mother always knows where her next hundred million is coming from and their well-supplied aunt and children, most of whom do  valuable work by visiting hospitals occasionally and smiling.                                                     

Prince Harry,  of course, who has yet to do anything useful in his life beyond playing golf all over the world and going to nude parties is now going to cost even more with a wife who will need her own household staff. Just the foofaraw in the leadup to the wedding will cost millions in tax dollars.

So the hell with it. Here are pictures of some of the 120,000 homeless children in London alone - expected to double in the next 20 years. Maybe one of them will get lucky by being snapped while being smiled at by Harry.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Nov. 29: The Crash of an Empire

I just had an interesting letter from a reader who once voted for a Conservative prime minister - because he was an economist, and so, she wrote, someone capable of  handling money.

But that's not a good idea because that isn't the way it works. We might as well talk about electing a city mayor because he knows how to drive a snow plow, and could save us money.

It's not the person elected who plans the economy. Of course not. Planning a national economy is a job that requires far more education and experience than most politicians, including economists, have. It's also a job that requires many people. That's why we have a civil service. (Despite the jokes that business loves to tell about the civil service, those services in developed countries have been pretty good from at least 1939 on. The Canadian one is so good that for years big business sent its top executives to the federal civil service to study and copy its methods.)

In fact, the greater problem we face today in Canada and the U.S. is that the very wealthy do their best to cripple civil servants. In Canada and the U.S., it has become unusual to see legal agencies within government prosecute crimes by the very wealthy - and very, very rare to see any senior executive penalized. Think Lac Megantic. Think the crippling of U.S. government pursuit of illegalities by wealthy investors.  (The government agency that is supposed to keep an eye on big business was effectively shut down over a year ago.)

The reality is that sound government does not require electing economists (or lawyers). It requires electing people with a feeling for the needs of the whole society. (Instead, we often elect economists or lawyers who then sell us out to the wealthy.)

Long ago, when the world and I were both young, it was common to watch people die - often taking months and even years about it. I can remember at five or so visiting a woman who was wasting with a slow death by tuberculosis. A year later, I was watching a 20 year-old uncle die. And there were other cases. It was common because medical care was privately owned, and the people in our end of town couldn't afford it.

Many years later, that changed. A provincial premier introduced  medicare for all. And all of us now live longer because of him. The plan was so successful, the federal government had to copy it.  And it operated more effectively - and more cheaply - that private medicine had. And, no, the provincial premier who did this was not a lawyer or an economist. (He had those in his civil service.) The provincial premier also had no training in medicine. In fact, he was a clergyman. He was Reverend Tommy Douglas.

Choosing who to elect has nothing to do with law or economics or any other scholarly field. It has to do with looking for a person who cares about the whole society and its needs.

It's not about the budget. It's not about the law. It's about the needs of a society, all of a society, rich and poor, especially the poor. It's about compassion. It's about equal opportunity for everyone. It's about a decent life for everyone.             
Elect a person who understands that. Leave the details for those lawyers and economists employed in the civil service.
From today's paper, it looks as though the irving press is being gradually swallowed by canwest. That does not mean any improvement in quality. It does mean even worse coverage of New Brunswick. Canwest is just the usual journalism for profit propaganda outfit. In any case, this means cheaper operating costs for irving press, but no improvement in news quality.

Canada and World News is now less than two pages. The most bizarre story is the lead one that the recent North Korean missile test has re-ignited tensions with the U.S. Oh? When were they de-ignited? To the best of my knowledge the tensions, mostly created by the U.S., have been there since 1950.

This could have been settled long ago by the U.S. But it chose not to settle. Now? Well, watch for the possibility that China may move in on North Korea. But that will no please the U.S. because what it really wants is conquest for North Korea all for itself.

The only readable story is that the North American Free Trade Agreement, far from benefiting Mexico, has created even worse poverty.  The deal has created a small number of Mexican billionaires but, despite the economic theories of New Brunswick's professor de Savoie that billionaires create wealth, over half the population of Mexico lives in severe poverty. Thus its high rates of crime and violence. (and those who do have jobs, as in the auto industry, suffer severely low pay.)

The news in the New Brunswick section is the usual trivia. "Moncton man to represent himself during robbery/sexual assault trial". "Child molester imprisoned." There's a whole page of the story of the search for a man who is missing. Over half of the page is pictures that tell us nothing.

Norbert Cunningham has a column on the need for greater 'inclusion' in our schools. (NB is the second to worst of Canadian provinces for literacy.) Here's a thought on it.

Schools alone cannot solve that problem. I grew up in a district in which illiteracy was common. My best friend couldn't read comic books. It was no big deal. Most of the parents never expected us to have any brains. That's why most of my classmates had dropped out of school by grade 9.

I was lucky. My father encouraged me to read. But even he had limited expectations for me. When I failed grade ten, and then was kicked out in grade 11, it was no big deal. Getting to grade eleven was good enough. And I got a job as a mail clerk - the first person in my family to come home from work with clean hands. I was a success.

From my elementary school days, I knew of only one student who went to university. It wasn't the schools or the teachers that made us dumb drop-outs. It was the community we grew up in. It was the lack of expectations. It was the lack of any encouragement to think.

Nor are the universities much help. After a few years of evening high school classes, I took a university level course in Canadian history. I got a D minus. Years later, my whole BA record was a mess.

At the end of it, I got control of myself, talked my way into doing two more years of BA work (today,  I probably would not have been allowed to try it.) But I did it, and got straight As. With more luck, I completed an MA and ( still with doubts on all sides) completed a PhD - in Canadian History, the subject I had scored a D minus on at the start. (I suppose it could have been made easier if I'd had university professors from the start who knew how to teach. Alas! A university teacher who knows how to teach is a rare bird. They seem to feel that teaching is 'yuckie-poo'.)

My parents were not pleased about this whole process. I was trying to 'rise above my station'.

Problem kids like me were not created by teachers. They were and are created by communities. That's why New Brunswick ranks so low in literacy. In New Brunswick, expectations are low. In New Brunswick, there is very little open discussion of anything. It is a tight and fearful see-nothing, say-nothing, do-nothing society.

It's the whole society we have to start with, not just the children.
Most of the commentators in the paper seem to have been dumped in favour of National Post Writers. I guess they're cheaper. Alas! They seem to have no idea of how to connect with readers. In fact, they're really, really boring.
Sorry about spending so much time on New Brunswick. But that's the world I see up close.

So North Korea has a longer range missile - and Trump says he will retaliate with force. Duh! The reason North Korea has developed such a missile is BECAUSE the U.S. has been treating North Korea with force since 1950. It puts heavy sanctions on North Korean trade. It holds provocative (to say the least) military exercises on the border of North Korea.

Kim Jung may well be a fool - and a dangerous one - but he's not such a fool as to dispose of the only weapon he has against an aggressive U.S. And all North Koreans remember the last, extremely vicious, assault on North Korea that killed a quarter to a third of all the people in that country.

In almost 70 years, the U.S. has NEVER tried to come to a peaceful settlement with North Korea. It seems to be trying to now - though Chinese cooperation. I hope that works. The big question is whether American capitalism will allow it to work. It has long wanted North Korea as the door to the conquest of China.

Here's a story that is not likely to make the irving press (and probably not Canwest). It's a story of the murderous record of big oil. It's like mining, but maybe even worse.

Here's an opinion that gives some  credibility to the stories of a relationship between Trump and Putin.

Here's a news source operated by the Russian government. No. It's not just cheap propaganda. It's really not very different from most western news media, just a little more honest. Well, of course. The Russians aren't stupid enough to turn out a news medium that blatantly lies.

Here's David Suzuki, an eminent scientist and an authority on climate change. That's why so many newspapers won't run his columns.

For all its popularity, Time Magazine has always been a lying, propaganda mag. It has now been purchased by big oil's Koch brothers. Expect it to get worse, much worse.

In a U.S. being plundered by its own billionaires, Bernie Sanders stands as the last intelligent and honest voice in American political life. I guess that's why the news media don't pay much attention to him.

Not to worry about this story. Borneo is far away. And if similar disaster were to strike this province through, say, forest spraying or oil pollution, the irving press would never tell us. So why worry?

As any American history book will tell you, it was America that brought freedom and democracy to the world. Yes, it was. Well, okay. It wasn't.

I have sometimes found Paul Craig Roberts to be over the top in his columns. I wish I could think so about this one. But I'm afraid he might be right on.

Trump says North Korea is a sponsor of terrorism in other countries. Oh? So how come the U.S. media has never mentioned it? (Are they all secretly owned by Kim Jung? Has Trump secretly being protecting North Korea from criticism?)

The US has always used Christianity as an excuse for what it does. Native people were murdered with the blessing of Jesus. Prayers were said over the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And the Christian churches have always played the game. And they still do.

But it does get contradictory. If Jesus had tried to visit the U.S. in 1942, he would have been denied entry. (The same in Canada). He would have been denied because he was a Jew.

Here's a pretty good summary of the U.S. view of the world.

The reality is that the U.S. is an empire in serious and rapid decline. Its military, for all the expense of it, has not performed well for many, many years. Its  democracy has long since been crushed by its billionaires. The danger, the very great danger, is that these people are greedy and stupid enough to go for a nuclear solution.

I keep remembering Nov. 11, and the promise we made to our veterans that we would now work for a world at peace.

We lied to them. We didn't do anything about world peace. We simply continued the same war but with different dancing partners. Remember that next November 11.

This next one is essentially true. The really bitter truth is that the U.S. has been in bed with the Islamic terrorists from the start. And Canada is in bed with the U.S.
It's unfortunate this writer didn't go into more detail.

Despite the lavish used of glyphosate in New Brunswick, this province is not likely mount such a large campaign against it as Americans are. New Brunswickers are terrified of having an opinion unless it's the same one as everybody else.

Are mainstream media a threat to democracy? Most of them always have been from the start. In New Brunswick, the only function of the newspapers is to keep people in ignorance of what's happening here and all over the world.

There is a very strong possibility of a Saudi Arabia and Israeli attack on Iran. No, Iranians are not evil, though our news media will tell us they are. Iran's sin is that it kicked out American and British oil companies that had been robbing it, and it had the nerve to kick out the brutal dictator the U.S. had imposed on it and, gasp, to elect their own government.
This could be very dangerous. The Saudi military has not been impressive, not since Lawrence of Arabia led it in world war 1 to push out the Turks. Yes - a weak Saudi military. A strong Iran. - and Israel has a nuclear arsenal.

The whole middle east is becoming unraveled. and it's most likely to become even more dangerous and unstable than it has been. The U.S. empire is crashing.
It's not Trump - though he's bad enough. It's the whole economic and social system of the U.S., the mythology about America's leadership role in the world, the lack of a leadership (with the sole exception of Bernie Sanders) to lead the U.S. into reality..... The U.S. empire is crashing. And we're next door. (and with a leadership by billionaires which painfully resembles that of the U.S.)